See Pearl Jam's Mike McCready in a thrilling guitar duel with Jason Isbell and Sadler Vaden on a borrowed 1960 Strat

Sadler Vaden, Jason Isbell and Mike McCready perming onstage in Seattle
(Image credit: Jesse Cornett / YouTube)

Mike McCready has form for guesting with Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit (they jammed on Hendrix classic Little Wing live last year) but this time they're playing an Isbell song, and it sounds glorious. 

The Pearl Jam man joined Isbell and his band the 400 Unit at the end of their Woodland Park Zoo Amphitheatre on 5 July for a run on This Ain't It, a highlight from Isbell's latest album Weathervanes. YouTuber Jesse Cornett was close to the action as he captured some great footage of the performance.

From the moment McCready plays a lick in the intro it's unmistakably the player behind iconic albums like Vs and Mad Season's Above, and a treat to hear him in the mix with Isbell and the huge talents of 400 Unit guitarist Sadler Vaden.

McCready didn't get McGreedy with the limelight but he wasn't even playing his own famous 1960 Strat – he borrowed Isbell's, and he seemed to be right at home in the breakdown lick tradeoff with Isbell and Vaden that built into an Allman Brothers-style guitar harmony. 

Isbell was roughing it with what looked to be his 1953 Blackguard Telecaster, but tagged in his 1961 SG (from back in the early era when they were called the Les Paul Solid Guitar) for the second half of the song when the guitar dynamics ramped up.

As much as Isbell loves Les Paul's (and he's the owner of famed '59 Red Eye) he definitely doesn't discriminate between the classics – utilising an arsenal of vintage beauties for different needs, as his use of two classics in this performance underlined. He once told us he has a special appreciation for Telecasters, calling it "probably the best guitar design overall ever" in our 2021 interview

You can check out McCready's previous appearance with Isbell in Seattle below.

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.